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Daith Piercing: A Drugless Treatment For Migraines?

Daith Piercing: A Drugless Treatment For Migraines?
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BY KITT WALSH

In the grip of a migraine, sufferers would do damn near anything to make the pain stop. Drugs offer some relief and dietary changes help a few more, but one “new age” remedy shows some promise.

A Daith piercing goes though the ear’s innermost cartilage fold, the one just above the opening to your ear canal. A California piercer named Erik Dakota, is said to have pioneered the piercing in 1992 and a Jewish client (of the new age-bent) who named the technique “da’at,” which is Hebrew for “knowledge, and is also a part of the Kabbalistic tree of life in metaphysical circles. The technique itself is difficult and requires someone with skill or “knowledge”.

A true Daith piercing has to have the bottom part of a ringed earring appear to come out of the ear canal itself. The entrance and exit hole of the ring should not be able to be seen at the same time or else it is not “a true Daith”.

The technique is done with a special curved (and hollow) needle and it does, (according to most people who have had it done), hurt. The healing at the site can take weeks of soaking the piercing in salt water 3-4 times a day (and during that time, say goodbye to ear buds) but most are willing to undergo the temporary pain for a possible permanent relief for migraines.

The piercing acts like acupuncture by stimulating nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue. This caused the body to produce endorphins (pain relieving substances). The Daith piercing may do the same thing, except you walk out virtually wearing your acupuncture needle.

But does it work?

Nicole Bandis, who has become something of a poster child for Daith piercings after her experience was first posted on her Facebook page and then picked up by Huffington Post, says it certainly does. Here’s what she wrote to the hundreds of people who asked her for her opinion:

“Before: I would get 3 to 4 migraines per month on average. Not enough to warrant some of the extreme measures but enough to affect my life. Each migraine would take me out for 1 to 2 days at a time. Results: I’ve now had this for over 6 months and can honestly admit that is has worked for me. I’ve seen a reduction in frequency and intensity of my migraines where nothing else seemed to help, Since getting it, I think I’ve had less than 5 migraines. Only one of those has actually made me fully non functional for a day. I’ve dramatically reduced my use of drugs to deal with the migraines. I have had several times that felt like I was for sure going to get one only for it to go away by itself.”

Nicole recommended getting the ear pierced on the side of your head where you get most of your migraines. Since she still experienced a couple of less intense migraines (nothing, she says, like what she used to experience, she (later) got her other ear done as well. She recommends if you have pain on both sides, pick the ear you don’t sleep on as it is going to hurt while healing. Nicole is not migraine free, but feels immense relief just having fewer migraines every month and reminds people that, if the Daith piercing doesn’t work, you can always take the ring (or “bone”) out and let the piercing heal.

What do medical doctors have to say?

One MD specializing in pain management, Dr. Thomas Cohn, stepped outside of traditional medicine lock-step long enough to write a blog article about the Daith piercings. In it neither condoned nor dismissed the piercing’s efficacy for migraine pain relief, writing “This type of ear piercing has been around for 3,000 years. These piercing can be quite painful since they are through bony cartilage, and care must be given to keep them clean and prevent infection.”

But, he went on, “Migraines are a vascular type of headache. They occur more commonly in women and sometimes have a very specific triggers, such as certain foods…sometimes management techniques prove ineffective, making the headache hard to treat. Recently, some people who have received a Daith piercing have coincidentally found improvement with their migraine headaches. It is not universal, and it is has not been studied formally. The correlation is based on the success for some people with acupuncture in the same region of the Daith piercing.”

Cautious enough language, yet he was maligned as recommending voodoo instead of proven medical techniques and even his proficiency as a doctor came under attack.

Dr. Cohn responded to those critical of his admission that there is a possibility that Daith piercings might work for migraine sufferers.

“Unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who suffers from chronic pain or headaches, please don’t be quick to chastise potential solutions. People who are considering a Daith piercing for their headache pain aren’t considering it as their first option. Pain is a very personal issue, and having someone belittle a potential treatment technique, which appears to have worked for some…adds nothing positive to the goal of solving the pain problem. I completely understand why it’s important to be hesitant of unfounded medical treatments, but if we ignored all potential solutions in their early stages simply because they had yet to be fully researched, the medical world would never evolve.”

So, as there has been no formal study, if Daith piercings truly help migraine sufferers will still be up for debate. But, after consulting your medical professional and finding a licensed and experienced Daith piercer, all you have to lose is around $100 and just possibly, your migraines.

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